For the first time since the 2008-09 season, Northern Michigan University Men’s Basketball got off to a 2-0 start, getting victories at the GLIAC/GLVC Challenge against Lewis University and University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
The game against Lewis on Saturday, Nov. 11 was a back and forth battle with seven ties and 12 lead changes.
“I thought we played really hard,” head coach Bill Sall said.
With four seconds left the Wildcats fouled a Flyer on a lay-up attempt, giving Lewis the two points and a free throw. The three point play had the ’Cats trailing by two 78-76. After a Lewis University timeout with a few seconds on the clock, junior Naba Echols found sophomore Will Carius who then tossed up a hail mary shot at the Flyer basket from half-court. As the buzzer went off the ball passed through the net giving NMU a 79-78 victory and a 1-0 start to the season.
“Having a miracle half-court shot go in doesn’t hurt,” Sall said.
Sophomore Sam Taylor led all scorers with 25 points, hitting five three-pointers and going eight of 11 from the free throw line. This win against Lewis was the first since the 1998-99 season, giving Northern confidence going into their Sunday matchup with UW-Parkside.
The game against UW-Parkside was another good one for the Wildcat squad. Unlike the Lewis game, this one only had two ties and five lead changes. Despite having large leads throughout the game, the ’Cats seemed to let the Rangers back in the game, time and time again. Not until 5:41 left in the game did NMU keep a lead, jumping ahead 72-62. The double digit margin proved to be enough. The Northern defense only gave up five points for the remainder of the game. The lead crept up to 16 at its highest. The final was 83-68 in a Wildcat victory and a 2-0 start to the season. Echols led all scorers with 27 points shooting 10 of 14 from the field.
“If we continue to improve there is enough pieces and offensive weapons that we have a chance to have a good team,” Sall said.
The next games for NMU are at Minnesota State-Moorhead taking on Moorhead Friday, Nov. 17 and then Southwest Minnesota State Saturday. “What a tough trip,” coach Sall explained.
This should be a real challenge for the Wildcats to continue their successful start to the season. Minnesota State-Moorhead comes into this game on a two game losing streak. However, last year they finished with a record of 24-6 good enough to earn them a trip to the NCAA regionals. Southwest Minnesota State comes in at 1-1 but last year had a record of 28-6 with a deep run into the NCAA tournament.